OUR PLACE COMMUNITY MINISTRIES Overview
All of our clients live in poverty. They are some of Spokane's poorest and most vulnerable citizens. We know our clients must often choose between paying their rent, their utility bill and buying food and hygiene items. By providing emergency services for families who are unable to meet their basic human needs due to the recession and other economic challenges, Our Place prevents homelessness.
Our Place is a member of Second Harvest Food Bank. We provide food once a month to people living within the boundaries of this program and to all homeless. Second Harvest's geographic area stipulates we may give food only to families living south of Montgomery to the Spokane River and west of Division to the river. Our Place aims to distribute about 20 pounds of food per person. A typical food basket consists of some protein, produce, canned veggies, grains, eggs and maybe something fun like ice cream, when it is available. We are also an outlet for WIC and senior boxes (food packages delivered monthly to seniors).
Our Place is a member of Northwest Harvest and we receive a shipment of food from them once a month. Generally it is food with a good protein value. We are able to distribute this food to anyone in Spokane and to clients who need food more than once a month.
Our hygiene bank provides supplies once a month to homeless and clients in our service area. Food stamps may not be used to buy these products including toothpaste, toothbrushes, bar soap, deodorant, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, laundry soap, combs and brushes, razors, shampoo and diapers.
Part of our emergency services program is to provide utility assistance to those facing shut-off. Clients set up an appointment and bring in their Avista or Spokane city utility shut-off notice. Depending upon the amount of funding we have available, we apply $50 or $100 toward their bill to prevent loss of power and water. People who cannot pay their utility bill generally cannot stay in their homes and must vacate. When we surveyed our clients, many told us they would have been forced to leave their homes. One client wrote, "Without your assistance, I would have been homeless."
We assist clients with their emergency transportation needs in the form of bus tokens, so they may go to their jobs, school or medical appointments. We distribute 20 bus passes per day.
Our free laundry facility helps anyone in the city who needs laundry services. We have two washers and four dryers. Clients are able to go into the community, attend job interviews, and school without odors, or wearing clothes saturated with stains. Many clients do not have their own washer and dryer. Many also lack the funds to use a commercial facility, or they lack the transportation to even get to a commercial facility. When we surveyed our clients, they told us they used to wash their clothes by hand in their sink or bathtub.
Our Place's clothing bank distributes donated clothing, bedding and household necessities. Our need is greatest during the winter months, when many people come in for warm clothes and blankets to help keep their heating costs down. We provide the homeless with sleeping bags and warm clothing and for all who come here in need, blankets and warm bedding to help